By Clinton Anderson
If you’re at a show or on a trail ride, it’s common for your horse to develop a magnet with the trailer. In your horse’s mind, the trailer is equivalent to getting to rest, munch on hay and hang out with his buddies. Rather than trying to keep the horse away from the trailer, let him go there and then put his feet to work. Depending on where you are and the amount of room you have to move your horse’s feet, you can either stay in the saddle and hustle your horse’s feet or dismount and work him from the ground. If you stay in the saddle, you can do rollbacks next to the trailer, trot serpentines and figure 8’s, canter circles or anything you can think of to hustle your horse’s feet and do as many changes of direction as you can.
On the ground, you can put his feet to work with an exercise like Lunging for Respect Stage Two. Not only does this exercise get the horse’s feet moving, but it’s a great “listen to me” exercise you can do when your horse is in a new environment and full of nervous energy. The secret to getting a horse to use the thinking side of his brain is to move his feet forwards, backwards, left and right. This exercise requires the horse to do a lot of moving his feet and changing directions. It will knock the air out of him pretty quickly because it takes a lot of effort to constantly stop and change directions.
After a few minutes of working the horse next to the trailer, walk off and rest him next to the arena or on the trail, wherever he didn’t want to be. With repetition, the horse will forget all about trying to get back to the trailer. Remember, horses are basically lazy creatures. They never run to hard work.